[Startup Bharat] How this Ahmedabad-based startup is using AI to innovate fashion design
One major disadvantage of ecommerce websites over offline stores is, of course, their inability to allow customers to touch and feel the products before purchasing them. To address this problem, many fashion companies’ websites have in recent years integrated technologies such as AI, computer vision, and data analytics that enable a simulated shopping experience for customers.
poshaQ was started by Yash Saxena and Ruchit Dalwadi in 2016 to provide a similar service. It creates an algorithm for styling fashion outfits and for ecommerce cataloguing, using AI and computer vision. The platform essentially uses computer vision and data analytics to create next-generation products.
“We are a computer vision / AI-based product recognition company. Using data-mining technology solves core retail problems, ranging from backend ops like cataloguing and decision-making problems like pricing and assortment intelligence to user experience personalisation,” explains Co-founder Yash.
poshaQ offers services such as automated cataloguing, fashion insights, and a styling recommendation system to fashion companies to help them serve their customers better.
Yash, who always had a keen interest in design thinking, wanted to start up in the design tech space. He has previously worked with Board of Innovation as Ambassador India, in Startup Weekend as lead organiser, and as a visiting faculty in various design and business schools.
In 2013, he started a not-for-profit organisation, Openfuel, to work on developing and deploying innovation and design-thinking tools. Started to help other startups, it was working with nascent organisations then including Startup India, IIM Ahmedabad, and various other government organisations.
Though Openfuel’s operations are on the backburner currently, Yash says that he will be relaunching it soon.
“I wanted to have my own startup at some point, and so I started to build a team in 2016. Ruchit, a friend of mine who was then studying at NIT Surat, came to Ahmedabad for a hackathon. He then showed an interest to join the startup,” recalls Yash.
While working on innovation projects for Openfuel, Yash had authored three patents in 2015 that improved the checkout process for ecommerce companies. Getting into the market to validate his patents and the technology, he asked people about the common problems faced in buying online.
“While testing the initial idea for patents and talking to shoppers and women especially, I realised that styling is a need for shoppers, especially in the purchase of fashion goods,” explains Yash.
This realisation led him to start poshaQ in 2016 in Ahmedabad, along with Ruchit. Bootstrapped till date, the startup has a 15-strong team today.
The poshaQ platform is an AI visual recognition system that powers cataloguing automation, intelligent search, and looks-based recommendations.
The platform automates everything for clients’ sites, right from the studio photoshoot to the products landing on their product display pages. It also manages editing, image selection and descriptions, and product uploading.
“With our partners, we power the fashion forecasting, luxury retail, and luxury experiences globally. Our visual recommendation system creates look-based recommendations for fashion products. Our platform thus provides styling recommendations,” explains Ruchit.
The AI market
According to Allied Market Research, the global artificial intelligence market is expected to reach $169 million in 2025, growing from $4.1 million in 2016 at a CAGR of 55.6 percent.
Today, there are many players in the market like Mad Street Den, Fabulyst, and Visenze that operate in the design-tech space.
“We are among the very few startups in India fusing computer vision and data analytics to solve problems at scale. We have worked with two of the top three fashion ecommerce players in India and have developed AI algorithms based on data related to fashion trends,” explains Yash.
The entrepreneur adds,
“Building AI systems that give business-level accuracy is both a research and cost-intensive endeavour, and that is the reason most of the AI startups try pulling this off with an investment backing. Through bootstrapping, not only did we build the most mature, fast, and scalable AI-modelled system in the market, but also carved our way to sustainability.”
As the startup builds strategic products with companies, clients either pay based on an annual subscription model, or it takes an equity to work on experimental ideas.
poshaQ’s clientele include Myntra, Bestseller, and Prione, with whom the team claims to have been working for more than two years. According to the founders, the company’s revenue has grown 10x in the last two years.
“While selling our products directly to retail companies that want to deploy AI / Big data / analytics to solve specific issues is the obvious way to go, we’re also focussing on partnering with existing tech companies and startups to deploy our products as a part of joint solutions,” says Ruchit.
When asked about the future plans of poshaQ, the founders say that, in the coming months, the startup plans to expand to other verticals of retail as well as go international.
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)